By Tim Eyman (On-line letter to supporters and press)
Benton, Roach stage 'amendment filibuster' on anti-initiative bill SB 5297
Senators Don Benton (R-Vancouver) and Pam Roach (R-Auburn) are, by far, the strongest advocates for the initiative process in Olympia. And they proved it again last week when anti-initiative bill SB 5297 came up for a vote in committee. They staged an 'amendment filibuster', proposing 17 changes to the bill, each of which had to be debated and voted on by the committee. This put a bright, bright spotlight on the many legal, constitutional, and policy flaws in this idiotic legislation. It was magnificent. The Senate Republican Caucus awarded Benton the "Elephant Award", something they give to members who go over and above the call of duty.
Huge, multi-policy bills like anti-initiative bill SB 5297 are intended to give supporters just one 'tough vote', but Benton and Roach's amendments forced them to take anti-initiative votes over and over and over again. Most importantly, their amendments forced the other side to learn what was in the bill (most don't have a clue what's in the bills they're pushing). Many times, they forced Democrats to defend the indefensible. After 40 minutes of debate and discussion on just the first eight amendments, the Democrats made a motion to quash the remaining amendments and move forward with the vote. The bill received a party-line 4-3 DO PASS recommendation.
We lost that battle but we firmly believe we're winning the war. SB 5297 wilts under the bright light of scrutiny. There's another hearing on this bill tomorrow at 1:30 pm before the Senate Ways & Means committee. Since it'll cost the taxpayers $360,000 to implement a brand new bureaucracy requiring licensing and registration, photo headshots, criminal background checks, and fingerprinting for citizens who collect signatures for initiatives, we're going to ask the committee a simple question: at a time of $5 billion deficits, how can they possibly justify spending $360,000 to address a problem that testimony and history shows doesn't exist?
Please send another email to ALL legislators (they can all vote so they all need to hear from all of us) -- 'cut and paste' the list of email addresses provided below into the 'bcc' portion of an email from you (one email for the senate, one email for the house) -- and tell them "At a time of $5 billion deficits, there's no justification to spend $360,000 of taxpayers' money to address a problem that clearly doesn't exist. The initiative process is ours, not yours, LEAVE IT ALONE. Vote no on anti-initiative bills HB 1668 / SB 5297."